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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016
After 1500 generations, fruit flies are still fruit flies...
This morning I chanced upon an article that noted the environmental adaptions taking place in a line of fruit flies (drosophila melanogaster) that have been adapting to total darkness over 1500 generations (about 60 years).  Just to be sure we're all on the same page, environmental adaption isn't the sort of mutation typically envisioned by various theories of evolution. 

Environmental adaption does not introduce new information to a genome, rather existing information is switched on or off at the genetic level in response to a variety of environmental influences.  If there is a drought, and your DNA has something for that, it may switch "on" in the next generation.  if there is little food, another handful of switches may turn on, and some may turn off, etc.

The experiment in question, mapped out a couple of hundred thousand genes to determine which of these mapped genes were "adaptive" - meaning, which of these genes could "turn on" existing features that were being coaxed out by the lab-induced darkness.  Approximately 6% of the genome seemed to respond in a condition-dependent way.  When I say, "seemed to respond" I don't mean that they aren't sure whether or not they there was a change, but rather that they have no certain way to be sure which if any did change because of the lab induced condition of total darkness.  Without a deeper understanding (and experiments of this nature will eventually give us a greater understanding) of the factors involved, we aren't at liberty to do much more than guess how much of that 6% actually represents an induced change, or even whether or not the darkness was the only or prime factor.

But that is science.  The more information we have, the more certain our guesses will become.  For now we can say that after 1500 generations, a line of fruit flies left in total darkness experienced some genetic adaption.  That isn't the same as saying they "evolved" - since no new information was added to their genome, rather it is to say that their genome selectively turned on or off various latent features of their existing DNA.  This isn't the kind of "evolution" that most people mean when they speak of evolution, this is just a family of fruit flies doing what fruit flies have always been able to do - adapt according to their genome.

Don't get me wrong, this experiment has a lot going for it.  It will no doubt contribute to our understanding of how environmental adaptation works, and all that, but what caused this experiment to strike me as significant is what it tells us about changes to our genome after 1,500 generations...

Have you ever wondered how many generations it would take to re-populate the world staring from just two people?  A thousand?  A hundred thousand? Nope.  Less than 50.  Seriously, if conditions were perfect, it could be done in as little as 900 years, and in just a few dozen generations.

The big point isn't that fruit flies haven't evolved into something new even after 1500 generations, nor is it that if what most people think of as evolution is true, it happens so slow that we may never be able to verify it experimentally.  No the big thing is that if evolution actually explains our origins, we should have (over the millions of years we've allegedly been here) over-populated the world thousands of times.

Conservatively, 1500 generations of humanity should span about 35K-40K years, so we should expect the humanity from 40,000 years ago, to be just as smart, industrious, and genetically able as humanity today, since, genetically speaking, they are identical to us.  They had opposable thumbs, and certainly would have every advantage that we have in becoming the undisputed masters of this world, and over-populated the world, just as we have, many, many times over.

Yes, there is disease and famine, and all that in the world.  It has been here as long as we have.  But as convenient as it is to suggest that the reason mankind failed to thrive in the past was because we were too unsophisticated, or because disease, war and famine so limited our population that we failed to thrive until only recently.  Yet the same people who are willing to believe that the kind of spontaneous beneficial mutation that can produce a superior version in the place of previous inferior ancestors, if you just give the process enough time (millions of years), balk at the idea that mankind could ever have overcome his environment to dominate the planet has it has until only just recently.

How did we conquer this world? How did we overcome limited resources?  How have we tamed the air and the sea? What have we done that our genetically identical forefathers from thousands of years ago prior to written history couldn't have done?  In order to truly embrace evolution, we must adapt a very low opinion of mankind's ability to do anything - since we must begin with the assumption that mankind was in a state of utter indifference and idiocy prior to the last few thousand years.

One doesn't have to be a raving religious nut to question the viability of evolutionary theory.  The question we should be asking is how is it possible for all that information get into our DNA?  The human brain is far more complicated than any computer - are we to understand that the same natural processes that wear mountains down to dust, elsewhere build that dust up into super-computers?  We can understand how natural forces can destroy what is, but how can the same forces create information?  our DNA is more complex than anything you can imagine - not because it is conceptually complex, but because of the information in our DNA - how did it get there?

To believe that the kind of information that has been allegedly added to our DNA (slowly over millions of years) just wrote itself, or happened (repeatedly over the millennia) in response to an incalculable number of various natural impetuses requires a great deal of hope.  I would say, "faith" but faith has to have some anchor - you can't have faith by itself, faith has to be in something, you trust that this or that is true.  But in this case, you're trusting that the most complex information known to man came into being through changes no one has ever seen.  In other words, you're trusting that something no one has ever witnessed or recorded, has not only happened once, but happened millions of times in the past for pretty much every organism upon the earth,

People of faith - in particular those who believe the various divine creation accounts  - are ridiculed by those who believe that all the information in our DNA essentially came together through random chance.  Let's be honest - one party believes that everything came from something, the other believes that everything came from nothing.

The study produced a few articles, which produced a few conversations, most of which have or will have degenerated into an atheistic vs. a faith based debate about the origin of all things.  That's not a bad thing, as it gives atheists an opportunity to stare again into the face of their belief system: "everything originated from a very special form of nothingness - the kind of nothingness that we don't see today, but at one time created enough of a universe to start things off..."

posted by Daniel @ 11:15 AM  
  • At 9:15 AM, February 20, 2016, Blogger Steve Drake said…

    That's not a bad thing, as it gives atheists an opportunity to stare again into the face of their belief system: "everything originated from a very special form of nothingness - the kind of nothingness that we don't see today, but at one time created enough of a universe to start things off..."

    There's a very special kind of faith involved here as well--a fairy dust kind of faith, if you will, that being sprang up and out of non-being. At one moment there's non-being, at the next moment there's being. Pretty special indeed!

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